The Real Season. The 32 NHL teams played 82 games to determine the 16 teams that earned a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Who will come out on top? Can the Tampa Bay Lightning win their third consecutive Cup? Will there be a new champion?
Let’s take a look at the seven playoff series that don’t include the Tampa-Toronto series. One thing for sure is nothing beats playoff hockey.
Colorado vs. Nashville
The Avalanche are the number one seed in the Western Conference. Oddsmakers have them among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. To hear some people talk, the Predators don’t stand a chance. The status of their goalie, Jusi Sarros is up in the air.
Colorado has a very potent offense and is getting Gabriel Landeskog back from knee surgery. Despite coming into this postseason with high expectations, the Avalanche need to get deep in these playoffs to satisfy the naysayers. Ultimately, Nashville will not have enough to overcome the talented lineup of the Conference’s best team. Prediction: Colorado in 5
Minnesota vs. St. Louis
This has the makings of a very good playoff series. The Wild were the number two team in the Central Division and the Blues were number three separated by four points. I think these two teams are closer than that.
St. Louis was the last team not named the Tampa Bay Lightning to win a Stanley Cup back in 2019. Maybe their best days are in the rear view but they still have some fight in them. Minnesota is a team on the rise but largely untested in the postseason. Prediction: St. Louis in 6.
Calgary vs. Dallas
Safe to say that the Calgary Flames as the number two seed in the conference is a very big surprise. The Flames have the stingiest defense in the conference giving up 2.51. The Stars have the least potent offense of all 16 playoff teams. This does not bode well for Dallas.
Perhaps the end of season push Dallas needed to get the last playoff seed in the conference is the best thing going for them. It will not be enough to beat a very good defensive team. Prediction: Calgary in 5
Edmonton vs. Los Angeles Kings
This may be the series that generates a lot of interest because of the Oilers. Can Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lift the Oilers to a deep playoff run? Clearly, the Oilers are very good offensively but can they play the physical type of game the postseason brings?
Los Angeles struggles at times defensively. They also have their challenges offensively and their special teams are firmly entrenched in the bottom ten of the league. Edmonton couldn’t wish for a team that they match up well against to open the postseason. Prediction: Edmonton in 7
Florida vs. Washington
The Panthers are the Presidents Trophy winners this season. That and $5 gets you an overpriced cup of coffee. Ask the 2019 Lightning team. That aside, the Panthers are a very solid hockey team. They are the only team in the league to average over 4 goals a game.
Washington won the Cup in 2018 but they are too far removed from that level of play to be able to compete with this year’s best team. The Capitals won’t get swept but they will be setting tee times by the end of the series. Prediction: Florida in 5
Carolina vs Boston
Carolina has a potent offense and the best defense in the league. They have multiple advantages over Boston including the best penalty killers in the league. The issue for the Hurricanes is their number one goalie Freddie Andersen is out indefinitely with an injury. Veteran Antti Raanta will play between the pipes and that could give Boston a chance.
The Bruins have been through it all. They are a veteran laced team with loads of playoff experience. If Carolina takes them too lightly, they could find themselves in a pickle. Ultimately, in the playoffs, generally the best teams win. It will in this series too. Prediction: Carolina in 7
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
There should be no question that this is the last we will see of the Sid Crosby-Evgeni Malkin-Kris Letang led Penguin teams. I believe they have a lot of fight left and want to go out with a deep run.
The problem facing them is a young goalie in New York by the name of Igor Shesterkin. Haven’t heard of him? He will most likely win the Vezina Trophy this season. Leading the league in goals against with 2.07 and a save percentage of 93.5%. If the Penguins can score they have a chance, if Shesterkin plays anything like the regular season, it’ll be goodnight, Pittsburgh. Prediction: New York in 6.
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